Archive for July, 2008

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Citation Quality

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Another quicky while I’m at the BYU genealogy conference.

We all know how important it is to add sources for the information we enter. When adding a source in RootsMagic, we’ve always been able to enter the “quality” of the citation. But it has been limited to “primary”, “secondary”, “questionable”, and “unreliable”. Until now.

Citation Quality

As you can see, RootsMagic 4 now follows approved standards for evidence analysis in an easy to understand format.

To learn more about evaluating your genealogy sources, visit:

http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/skbld085.html

And our friend Mark Tucker over at ThinkGenealogy.com has put together a Genealogy Research Map that covers the full research process (including assessing the quality of a citation). You can download it for free from:

http://www.thinkgenealogy.com/2008/07/31/genealogy-research-process-map-version-2/

This isn’t the only new source enhancement coming in RootsMagic, but we’re saving the best for later. Stay tuned.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Color Is Our Friend

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I am at the BYU Family History Conference all week. But here’s a quicky for you.

If you’ve done much merging, you know that most of your time is spent staring at the screen comparing names, dates, and places. In RootsMagic 4 it is color to the rescue…

Merge 1

If you noticed all the green on the two possible duplicates on this merge screen, you may have realized that green means the fields match on the two records. So if you see a bunch of green, it means to don’t have to spend as much time comparing every field of the two records before making a decision whether to merge them. Now take a look at this one…

Merge 2

These possible duplicates have some yellow fields and a red field. Yellow indicates that the fields are close but not exactly the same, and red indicates they aren’t the same at all. So if you are seeing red, it means don’t waste your time comparing all those fields.

There are a several other areas where RootsMagic 4 uses colors like this, but we’ll let you have the fun of discovering those for yourself.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Files Made Easy

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

We’ve made a few minor enhancements to working with files (aside from the new file extension that Jon mentioned in a comment to an earlier post… we’ll talk about what that means in a future post).

Creating a New File

We’ve created a new “New File” form to simplify creating a new database and getting started.

New File

To create a new database just type in a file name and click OK, and RootsMagic will create the new database in the default folder you have selected. The “New File” form also gives you a couple of options for what to do after the new file has been created.

Opening a File

One of the most common tech support issues we get is from users who can’t find a file they created. Earlier versions of RootsMagic have had a “Search for files” command, but it was a separate command and not really available when you actually needed it. In RootsMagic 4 we bring the “Search for files” feature front and center. For example, when you choose to open an existing database (File > Open from the menu), you’ll see this screen.

Open File

Hopefully it is self-explanatory (or if not, please let us know what wording *would* be). So whether you know where all your files are, or are less than comfortable with the Windows file dialog, we’ve got you covered.

Searching for Files

If you select “Search for a file” from the form above, RootsMagic will immediately open this screen and begin searching. You can pause the search any time and select any file found up to that point and open it directly from the search results.

File Search

This search screen is also available from other places in RootsMagic 4, like when you are importing data from another program, or searching for a backup to restore.

Restore Backup

And of course it is still available directly from the menu.

Rename Can Now Move

Yes, the File > Rename command has put on its dancing shoes. In earlier versions of RootsMagic the Rename command simply changed the name of the database you were working on. The database had a new name but stayed in the same folder.

Rename File

In RootsMagic 4 you can still do a simple file renaming, but now you can also choose a new folder and have RootsMagic move the database to that new folder. For those of you who have tried to move a RootsMagic database before, you know you like this feature.

Hopefully you aren’t getting bored by these sneak peeks (see, I spelled it right this time) at some of the fun little things we have added in RootsMagic 4. Hang in there though. The big stuff is just around the corner.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – What’s Another Word for Spel Chek?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Time for a sneak peak at a couple more of the small features coming in RootsMagic 4. I promise the big features are on their way. Just want to give the little ones their time in the sun.

Live Spell Checking

While RootsMagic has always offered spell checking, version 4 now offers “Live” spell checking. You know, those annoying little squiggly red lines that show what a lousy speller you are without you even having to ask for it (click the image below to see them in their full glory).

Live Spell Check

The nice thing about live spell checking is that you can just right click on the misspelled word and RootsMagic will display a menu with suggested spellings (and other options). And yes, those who are allergic to squiggly red lines can turn off this option and continue to use the old fashioned spell checking.

Auto Correct

Don’t you get tired of typing “teh” instead of “the” all the time? RootsMagic 4 can now automatically fix that for you. If you type “teh”, RootsMagic will automatically correct it to “the” as soon as you enter the space.

Auto Correct

If “teh” isn’t your weakness, you can add your own problem areas for RootsMagic to correct. I personally use this feature to change “rm” into “RootsMagic” (yes, I really am that lazy).

Thesaurus

At a loss for words? Or just tired of using the same words over and over?

Thesaurus

RootsMagic 4 comes with an updated version of Roget’s Thesaurus, making it easy to look up synonyms (words that mean the same thing) for any selected word. And if the thesaurus suggests a word you find more appealing than your own, RootsMagic can replace your boring old word with the new one.

So keep it tuned here as we continue to unwrap RootsMagic 4. The best is yet to come.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Adding a new person

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

It looks like Mark Tucker over at ThinkGenealogy has gotten in on trying to figure out the hints on the new features I didn’t talk about in my first “unveiling”. I can’t believe he figured out our biggest new feature… the reversed note icon on the toolbar. Actually, we have no idea why it is reversed from version 3, but it really doesn’t mean anything. I will confirm his suspicion that the little arrow on the “Add Person” button means that the same menu as in version 3 will drop down there. As for the other items he picked out, we’ll just have to see what those are in future entries. There are still at least two other hints from those screens that nobody has mentioned, but that’s ok because they are probably harder to spot than Waldo.

Speaking of adding a new person, let’s show a new little feature we added in that area. This is what the RootsMagic 4 “Add New Person” screen looks like (or at least if you click on that thumbnail you will see what it looks like).

Add New Person

There are 2 changes that RootsMagic users will notice. The first is that we have added a cause of death field. The second (and much more exciting) new feature is that little link that the arrow is pointing to. Clicking that link will bring up this customize screen.

Customize Add Person

You will now be able to create your own custom “Add person” form by selecting the fact types you want displayed on that form. Choose which fact types and what order you want them displayed. Once you are happy with your selections, click OK and RootsMagic will return to your newly customized “Add Person” form.

Add Person 2

You can even have multiple copies of the same fact type if you want. That’s useful if you tend to add multiple census, occupation, or residence facts for people. You can have up to 50 facts on the add person screen, and RootsMagic will add a scrollbar if necessary to see them all.

Oh, and just a little “clarification” for readers who aren’t already using RootsMagic. What I’ve shown here isn’t the full-blown edit screen for a person (wait until you see all the cool stuff we added there). This is a “quick add” form that lets you enter basic details on the person before the full edit screen appears (which has no limitations on the amount of data).

So keep checking back. We haven’t even scratched the tip of the iceberg.

RootsMagic 4 Unveiled (Part II)

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Another little sneak preview of things to come. Let’s see a couple of the teeny things we’ve added to the fact edit screen in version 4. I’m just going to show the fields themselves, because I’m saving the actual edit screen for later.

Dates

We’ve completely rewritten the date handling in RootsMagic 4, adding built-in support for Quaker dates, quarter dates, and even more flexible regular dates.

  • Quaker Dates – In version 4 you will be able to directly enter those Quaker dates (the ones that look like 19 da 6 mo 1748). And no, that date isn’t June 19, 1748. If you want to know more about Quaker dates, try this link.
  • Quarter Dates – You will also be able to enter quarter dates as found in UK BMD registrations. So if you enter Q 1 1847, 1st Quarter 1847, 1st Q 1847, March Quarter 1847, Mar Q 1847 or any other quarter format, RootsMagic 4 will understand what you mean.
  • More flexible regular dates – RootsMagic 4 will let you combine more of the modifiers in a single date. In the past you could have dates like “before 1900” or “about 1900”, but not “before about 1900”. Now you can.

And what about those times when you enter an invalid date or a date that RootsMagic doesn’t understand? You know, the ones like February 30th, or the ones that keep sorting to the bottom of the person’s fact list.

Invalid Date

If you enter a date that is illegal or that RootsMagic 4 doesn’t understand, RootsMagic will change the background of the date field to yellow. So you can still have plain old text dates, but now you will know when that is the case.

Place Details

One of the more common little items we get asked is “where should I put the name of the hospital, cemetery, residence, etc?”. In the past you could put it either as part of the place name, or throw it into the notes for that fact. There is now a third option.

Place Details

RootsMagic 4 adds a new “Place Details” field where you can put cemeteries, hospitals, street addresses and more. Place details can even have their own latitude and longitude for specific pinpointing of a location.

Latitude and Longitude

And speaking of latitudes and longitudes… are you tired of having to enter latitudes and longitudes in a rigid set of fields, using a rigid set of rules? RootsMagic 4 now supports intelligent fields where you can enter the latitude and longitude in the format most comfortable to you. Enter 35o 5′ 3.98″, 35 d 5 m 3.98 s, or 35.0844400. Decimal degrees or DMS… the choice is yours, and RootsMagic 4 will figure out what you mean.

Proof

Here’s a little goody RootsMagic 4 will provide when you enter a fact for a person.

Proof

You will now be able to specify (optionally) whether the fact has been proven, disproven, or disputed. The new proof field isn’t just limited to events either. You can also assign a proof value to relationships like spouse, father, and mother.

Child Relationship

You might have noticed one other “little” item in that last screen shot. RootsMagic 4 will now let you specify the child / parent relationship separately for the father and mother.

So there we are… another batch of tiny new features as we count down to the coolest new features coming in RootsMagic 4.

RootsMagic 4 Unveiled

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Well, maybe just a little unveiled. As I promised, it’s time to start pulling the covers off of RootsMagic 4, but just a little at a time. So let’s start with the teeny tiny new features, and we’ll work our way to the super-duper new features in the coming weeks. Today I’m just going to show you the main screens in RootsMagic 4. There aren’t a lot of differences because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But there are a couple of small things we’ve added to simplify things a bit.

RootsMagic 4 Main Pedigree View

So if you clicked on the screenshot above so you could actually see it, you noticed 2 small changes. Number (1) is a slider to let you switch between 5 and 6 generations on the pedigree chart. Now we’ve let you do that in the past, but a lot of users never knew it because it was buried down on the status bar. And number (2) is a feature a lot of users (especially beginning ones) have asked for. I think it is probably self-explanatory.

Oh, and by the way, you should probably ignore that little blurred out tab next to the Descendants tab. It’s too cool for this early in the show (I told you I was a tease).

We have updated the little info area to the left of the highlighted person’s name. Now when you click on the Spouses button you not only see the spouses and children, but you can also 1) add a new spouse, 2) add a new child to a family, or 3) rearrange the spouses or children. Yes, you have always been able to do these things in RootsMagic, but now it’s a little easier.

RootsMagic Family View

On to the Family View. Once again, little additions to make navigation and adding / editing data easier. Now you can always see exactly how many spouses each parent has (1), and clicking the button will let you switch spouses or add a new one. As in the pedigree view, you can add a new person (2) by clicking right where the person will go. Number (3) brings to the screen one of the most hidden features in version 3 (yes, we know it was hard to figure how to sort those kids). Just click the little sort arrows and you can immediately rearrange the children in the family. And finally (4), we heard you and have added the birth and death places, as well as optionally showing each child’s relationship to their parents.

RootsMagic 4 Descendant View

The descendant view looks and works just like in version 3, with the addition of the generation slider (1) and the addition of the birth and death place (2) columns.

So there you have it.  The tiniest enhancements we made in RootsMagic 4.  But those with eagle eyes might spot several hints of other changes on the main screen that we didn’t talk about.  So keep checking back.  It only gets cooler from here.

The RootsMagic “Insider”

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

I decided that since everyone else has an “insider”, it was time to have our own. Every effort has been made to conceal my identity as I share secrets from deep within the company.

Did you know that RootsMagic 4 is rumored to be coming out sometime? Just read our message boards if you don’t believe me. But others have questioned whether we are spending all our time on cruises instead of working on version 4 (shameless plug… here is info on our next cruise).

Well now you have an insider on your side. I’m going to tell you everything you would want to know about RootsMagic 4, and even give a few of you a chance to win a free copy when it is released.

So here’s the inside scoop… RootsMagic 4 *is* coming. I know you wanted that sentence to have “on <date>” at the end of it, but insiders need job security too.

I will tell you that RootsMagic 4 is our biggest upgrade ever (yes, that means we haven’t been spending all our time on that one RootsMagic cruise).

As your faithful insider, I will show you all the new features coming in RootsMagic 4. And by “show you” I mean with real screen shots and descriptions. But as a big tease, I’m going to start with the itsy bitsy new features and work up to the big (really cool) ones. So keep coming back, or better yet subscribe with one of those pretty buttons over on the right side of the home page.

And if you’re new to subscribing to blogs, here’s a great video that makes it easy to understand. Click that big arrow in the middle of the video to start it.